Funding for Border Crisis Could Detract From Local Resources

Created: 07/23/2014 11:09 PM
By: Meghan Reistad

(ABC 6 News) -- A high number of undocumented children crossing into the United States could affect funds for refugee services right here in Southeastern Minnesota.

More than 60,000 minors have attempted to cross over the U.S. border, without their parents, since October. President Obama is asking for $3.7 billion to attempt to fix the issue. If Congress doesn’t approve the funding, that money could be taken out of funds allotted to refugee services across the country..  

"We don't want to lose the budget. We want to continue to provide these services to people because the less money we have, the more services get affected and the community will start to feel that," said Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Director Kristina Hammell.

Nearly 10,000 kids crossed into the U.S. undocumented in the month of May.

"Nobody wants the refugees to be chosen over the minors or the minors to be chosen over the refugees because everybody is coming from bad situations. They're running from persecution," said Hammell.

As an immigrant, Rebeca Sedarski from the Chicano Latino Affairs Council said people need to enter the country legally, but she understands what they are facing.

"It is a dire situation for many of them and I am happy that they receive the help, because otherwise it's really hard to survive," said Sedarski.

According to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Minnesota has been home to 32,000 refugees in the past 10 years.   In a statement she said, "As we address the influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the border, we need to make sure that support for the refugee programs that are so critical to Minnesota remains strong."

Most kids attempting to cross into the U.S. are fleeing from violence in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. This has some questioning what should be done about sending them back.   

The House and Senate are both working on legislation to tackle the issue.  The House version, backed primarily by Republicans, calls for changes to laws to expedite deportation and sending the National Guard.  The Democratically-controlled Senate version would use funding to add more immigration judges, detention facilities and other resources. 

A compromise any time soon could be unlikely, as each part calls the other's proposal unacceptable.